By Ed Brock
Officers arrested Donald Craig Lawrence, Jr., 20, on Wednesday after a police search of his mother's house on Jones Street revealed 60 pairs of stolen shoes and other merchandise, Clayton County Police Capt. Jeff Turner said. Lawrence has been charged with theft by receiving.
"We can connect him to the shoes," Turner said.
The shoes are believed to have come from a Jan. 26 burglary of the Athletes Foot on Tara Boulevard near Jonesboro, but the investigation that led to Lawrence's arrest started with an investigation by the Riverdale Police Department into another burglary.
That burglary shared the same "method of operation" as the Athletes Foot burglary and with at least two other burglaries in Clayton County. In each case the burglars broke into the store by smashing through a cinderblock wall, Turner said.
"The stores' alarm systems did not go off. (The burglars are) manipulating it in some way," Turner said.
On the day of the Athletes Foot store burglary a woman who owns a neighboring business called police after hearing banging noises around 8 a.m. and seeing two men loading sneakers into a white SUV with Enterprise Rental Car temporary license plates. The business owner confronted one of the men and asked if the owner of the shoe store was there. The man called another man who was in the store.
When the second man came to the back door the business owner told him to hold down the noise because she had people testing in her business, then she called 911 because she knew neither man was the owner of the store.
After gaining access to the store through the wall the men cut off the lock to the rear door and smashed the cameras and alarm system. They knocked a hole through a sheet rock wall that separated the back storage area from the front of the store.
The burglars took about $100 from the cash register and took mostly Timberland shoes. Both men were wearing black jackets, one with a hood.
Items from the Riverdale burglary, including DVDs and video games, were also found at the Jones Street house during the search Monday. Some of the merchandise from the burglaries is believed to have been sent to DeKalb and Fulton counties and authorities in those counties are also cooperating with the investigation.
Turner said more arrests are pending.